By Jamey Keaten
Interested investors may have to dig deep into their pockets to claim a giant Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that was dug up from three sites in the United States and is going up for auction Tuesday in Switzerland.
The 293 T. rex bones were assembled into a growling posture that measures 11.6 meters long (38 feet long) and 3.9 meters high (12.8 feet high. The skeleton is expected to fetch 5 million to 8 million Swiss francs ($5.6-$8.9 million) when it goes under the hammer at a Zurich auction house.
Promoters say the composite T. rex, dubbed “Trinity,” was built from specimens retrieved from three sites in the Hell Creek and Lance Creek formations of Montana and Wyoming between 2008 and 2013.
Swiss auction house Koller said “original bone material” comprises more than half of the restored fossil. The auction house said the skull was particularly rare and also remarkably well-preserved.
"When dinosaurs died in the Jurassic or Cretaceous periods, they often lost their heads during deposition (of the remains into rocks.) In fact, most dinosaurs are found without their skulls," Nils Knoetschke, a scientific adviser who was quoted in the auction catalog. “But here we have truly original Tyrannosaurus skull bones that all originate from the same specimen.”
T. rex roamed the Earth between 65 and 67 million years ago. A study published two years ago in the journal Science estimated that about 2.5 billion of the dinosaurs ever lived. Hollywood movies such as the blockbuster “Jurassic Park” franchise have added to the public fascination with the carnivorous creature.
The two areas the bones for Trinity came from were also the source of other T. rex skeletons that were auctioned off, according to Koller: Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History bought “Sue” for $8.4 million over a quarter-century ago, and “Stan” sold for nearly $32 million three years ago.
The auction house said Tuesday's sale, part of a wider sale of artifacts, marks the first time such a T. rex skeleton has gone up for auction in Europe.
Two years ago, a triceratops skeleton that the Guinness World Records declared as the world's biggest, known as “Big John,” was sold for 6.6 million euros ($7.2 million) to a private collector at a Paris auction.